Apple farming earns city wide recognition

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)

Updated: 2021-10-22


Overseas buyers give their thumbs-up to Yuncheng's apples at the international fruits fair. [Photo by Wang Liping for China Daily]

Yuncheng, a city known as the granary of Shanxi province, kicked off an agriculture show on Oct 15. But this time, the highlight was not on its grains, but on a renowned fruit grown in the city.

Catching the most attention of the Yuncheng International Fruits Fair was the apple of Yuncheng.

According to Ding Xiaoqiang, Party secretary of Yuncheng, apple farming has developed into a pillar industry and a new source of revenue for farmers in recent years.

"The planting area of fruits, with apples as the staple produce, reached 166,000 hectares in recent years, with an average annual output of about 6 million metric tons," Ding said.

However, what makes the official and his colleagues proud is not the output but the quality of the produce.

The city is known for selenium-rich apples. Selenium is a trace element that's beneficial to human health. The cultivation of this special breed of apple is made possible by the use of organic fertilizers containing selenium. Selenium-rich apples can sell at prices about 15 percent higher than ordinary varieties, local farmers said.

The latest information technology is also used for improving the yield and quality of apples.

Wang Shemin, a farmer in Xili village in the county of Linyi, operates a smart apple farm of about 7 hectares.

"With an intelligent operational system, the farm is managed by myself, and doesn't require me to hire other workers," Wang said.

The system is linked with various sensors at the farm to monitor the conditions of soil and air. "An analysis of such conditions can guide operations like automatic irrigation and fertilizer spray at the right time," Wang said.

To help farmers expand their sales, the city began implementing a collective branding campaign for its apples in 2017.

The city has registered the "Yuncheng Apple" brand name for apples produced in Yuncheng.

The collective marketing strategy, involving the use of a unified brand logo and packaging, has improved the recognition of the produce among consumers both nationwide and across the world.

According to Ding, Yuncheng's apples have been sold to 75 countries and regions. The total export volume is about 300,000 tons a year, accounting for about 80 percent of Shanxi's total exports of apples.

Li Ningbo contributed to this story.